The worlds first recycled cosmetics brand 💄

In 2020, there were 2.8 million unwanted lipsticks in U.K households. These are kept until they expire and are then thrown away, contributing to the one billion that end up in landfill each year. Ecolip is a lipstick recycling service, daring to question the conventional linear use cycle and marking a new era of eco-friendly innovation.

Open brief with weeks of discovery work to identify a focus area. The work presented reflects progress after identifying the problem.


Service design




9 months

Identifying the market gap

Market research identified that brands focus on pre- and post-consumer sustainability, but neglect the middle of life cycle. This identified an opportunity for a lipstick recycling service, where used but unwanted lipsticks are remanufactured into new ones.

Understanding the users

Secondary research

I reviewed academic literature to identify the core users of the service and their characteristics.

Key Insights:

  • Young people (mostly students), aged 18-34 are more likely to recycle than any other age group.
  • Those in urban areas are most likely to engage with recycling/reuse services.
  • Incentives are not a huge motivator in sustainable behaviour because consumers tend to act sustainably based on their own personal motivations.


I created personas from secondary research and interviews with 5 target users, which allowed me to evaluate new ideas and features against user needs and goals during the design process.

Example of persona : The ‘Uncommitted User’ Group

This group is young people aged 18-34, who are students or professionals working in service jobs (Finisterra, Barata and Filho, 2009). They are well-educated on environmental concerns and are more likely to recycle than any other age group (Botham, 2021). However, they are less likely to invest in sustainable products and are less conscious about their purchasing. They wear minimal makeup but own many products.

'Uncommitted User' persona

To - be journey

'Uncommitted User' to - be user journeyEnlarge user journey

User opinion on the service

An online survey was conducted to identify user opinions of the service. 40 participants answered the survey which provided a range of answers to analyse.

Key Insights:

  • 40% of participants said they own 5-10 lipsticks and 30% own 1-4.
  • 86.1% said they would donate 1-4 lipsticks to the service.
  • Only half of participants survey said they would purchase a recycled lip product, for those who were unsure or said no, hygiene concerns were the only barrier. Most of the 'unsure' participants said they would purchase the lipstick if it were clear how it was sanitised and safe.

Understanding the service

Secondary research

Secondary research was conducted to understand how the service would function.

Key Insights:

  • AI text recognition will identify the product when a picture is taken on the app. This will locate the product on the data base, curated by a web scraper which will tell the user if it can be recycled based on specific criteria.
  • Extensive research into sanitisation was conducted to alleviate hygiene concerns. The lipstick must be melted at 120 degrees for 2 minutes to sanitise it. It will be mixed with similar shades to form a new product.
  • The lipstick must cost below >£15 to be competitive in the marketplace.

Service blueprint

Using this information, a service blueprint was created and iterated upon using feedback from service design experts. This illustrates how the different elements of the service will communicate to provide a cohesive user experience.

Service blueprint of EcoilpEnlarge service blueprint


The below storyboard demonstrates how the user interacts with the service.

Storyboard demonstrating user interacting with Ecolip servoce

Creating the Information Architecture


I created an initial sitemap to explore the navigation structure, this was updated with the input of two service design experts (a professor and a service design consultant).

First sitemap iterationSecond sitemap iteration

Card Sorting

Using the sitemap as a guide, open and unmoderated card sorting was conducted using UXTweak. This allowed for more participants and saved time compared to individual interviews for testing navigation.

Tree Testing

Using the updated sitemap from the card sorting, I began testing the findability of the features using a tree test. Participants not involved in the card sorting were asked to navigate the following tasks: 

  1. You'd like to find out if your product is suitable to donate, to do this, you need to provide information about your product. Where would you look to provide this information?
  2. Your product was suitable for recycle so you want to donate it. Where you look for recycling points?
  3. You found a collection point and are ready to donate. Where would you donate your product?

This activity was repeated twice, implementing the changes from the previous round and testing with new participants.

Wireframing and Testing

Next, low fidelity wireframes were created to facilitate ideation and gather rapid feedback.

Examples of paper wireframes

These were then further refined in Figma and usability tested with four users, three times. They were asked to complete the three core tasks:

  1. Check if their lipstick is suitable to recycle
  2. Find a recycling point
  3. Recycle their lipstick

The success rate and time taken to complete each task were recorded to identify a quantitative improvement as designs were refined. An example is shown below for the first round of testing.

With each round, pain points were recorded and then improved upon. For the forth and final round of testing, an end-to-end service walkthrough was conducted which stimulated the experience to understand how it would be used in context.

Example of different fidelity of wireframes

High Fidelity Prototype

A high fidelity Figma prototype was created for both the web app and in-store recycling interface. The video demonstrates how these interfaces work.

Web application screens

Web application high fidelity screens

Other Bits and Bobs

Brand Identity

Following advice from a branding expert, I ran a focus group with participants who considered themselves to be 'environmentally conscious' and asked them about sustainable brands they used or liked. I then created an inspiration board of these, considering their brand identity and values. Alongside this, I also curated a mood board of modern cosmetic brands.

I leveraged the minimalist and typographic style of sustainable brands combined with the use of feminine and romantic colours from beauty brands to create Ecolip.


I conducted five rounds of cardboard prototyping and testing to ensure the lipstick packaging reflected the brand identity, engaged customers, and provided clear and concise information.

Point of Sales

Using my industrial design skill, I created the point of sales stand where the unwanted lipsticks can be recycled and the new lipsticks can be purchased. I CADed the model in Solidworks and rendered in Keyshot.

Example of CAD images visualising the point of sales system

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